Local firefighters get ‘Cancer Talk’

Firefighters, fire investigators, police officers and any other first responders face even higher risks than the average person.

Kenneth R. Kunz

Kenneth R. Kunz

Volunteer firefighters from the Princeton, Erris and Tulameen detachments participated in a ‘Cancer Talk’ facilitated by Kenneth R. Kunz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Kunz has dedicated his career to the study  of the disease and in the past 30 years has learned a great deal.

He spoke on the history of cancer; The Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BC) – medical textbook that revealed that ancient civilizations had discussed cancer—fossil records that showed that a 72 million year old Gorgosaurus (dinosaur) died of Bone Cancer.

With facts like these, Dr. Kunz states that, “Cancer is a natural consequence of living—just like fire.”

He believes that awareness/education is one of the most effective ways  to battle cancer.

Instead of committing what he describes as “armchair suicide,” he said that, “exercise is the single most important preventative measure.”

The average Canadian is actually at high risk for cancer.

Smoking, being overweight, inactivity and poor attention to our bodies (ie: not having a regular health maintenance program) are all factors that compound the inherent, genetic propensity toward this disease.

Firefighters, fire investigators, police officers and any other first responders face even higher risks than the average person.

Exposure in situations such as; an active fire scene if faces are exposed, handling of dirty turn out gear, diesel exhaust, improper storage of gear, improper decontamination after fires…etc, increase the chance of work related cancers.

Firefighters are exposed to numerous carcinogens whether they are in a natural fire (forest) or structure fires. Toxic chemicals are released when almost anything you can think of burns.

Dr. Kunz said to remember, “If it’s on you, it’s in you.”

“Reduce your chances,” he said. “Be aware, be concerned.”

He told the firefighters to check themselves; do you wear turn out gear appropriately, is the gear clean and in good repair, what kind of food do you eat, do you see a doctor regularly, do you have a yearly health maintenance plan – does your doctor know that you are a firefighter?

Dr. Kunz ended his talk with this statement, “Firefighters are heroes—that’s true, but they shouldn’t have to die for it.”

A few of the firefighters noted that the talk was a little scary but extremely informative and that Dr. Kunz had provide them with a lot of new information.

“This talk reinforces the standards and safety protocols that we adhere to,” said Princeton Fire Chief Eric Gregson, “identifying personal risk factors helps point us in the right direction of things we can improve upon.”

Visit www.kennethkunz.ca to learn more or to book Dr. Kunz for a Cancer Talk.